This film was the true story of how a boy with Asperger learned to talk by watching Disney films. I was able to listen to some discussion after but not stay long enough to hear it all or contribute myself.
It was voiced that, it may be problematic for an adult to be, so attached to Disney films. However, seeing people’s excitement about the recent release of Beuaty and the Beast, it seems that plenty of adults are very into Disney. Animated Life film showed that Disney films deal with a variety of themes for example, losing parents and growing up in Lion King, caring for others and right from wrong. The films formed a spring board for learning. However, learning from Disney films has it’s downsides. Firstly, Disney films endings are very standardised fairy tale endings, which, are not typical in real life as the subject of Animated Life discovers. Secondarily Disney films do not offer a starting point to discussing sex with your autistic brother; as the subject’s brother realises. In this case the subject has gained independence; the Disney films can be seen as a tool along the way, but also the subject was lucky with the other support they received. Therefore, an obsession with Disney films seems better than not being able to communicate and have any independence.
There was criticism of the film for giving false hope to parents; that watching Disney films was a magic cure and the film made it look too easy. I think, it did not take much reading amongst the lines to know it was not just as simple as watching a film, there was a lot of extra effort involved. I think any parent regardless of whether their child had autism, would realise there were tough times. What might be harder for parents of autistic children, to come to terms with, is not that some children may be destined to always have limited communication; no matter how much effort is put in.
An audience member, gave some bleaker facts about autism and talked about autism increasing sucide risk ( to illustrate that it is not the same for everyone. Considering, I believe that some people can be within autism spectrum, but not diagnosed then statistics are based upon those worse affected skewing the findings.
Thomas tank engine has also been found to help those with autism. Perhaps because both Thomas tank and Disney films are animated that means facial expressions (the trains have large faces) are clearer defined than they may be in real life people.
Some felt uncomfortable with autistic children being closely observed by parents looking for their child’s Disney film / Thomas tank equivalent , I think it is good for all parents, not just parents of autistic children, to expose children to a range of different narratives be that films, tv programmed or books then see whst their child takes an interest in and use that as a basis of learning. For example, can watch or read proactively and use it as a basis for learning colours or numbers.
In summary it was a fascinating film but I’m treating it as one example and not a model for all autistic people.